Workers at Ekati Diamond Mine in Northwest Territories represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada reach tentative settlement for second collective agreement at Canada's only unionized diamond mine



    YELLOWKNIFE, Nov. 9 /CNW/ - Workers at the Ekati Diamond Mine represented
by the Public Service Alliance of Canada North have reached a tentative
settlement for a second collective agreement at Canada's only unionized
diamond mine.
    The proposed 4-year agreement comes after a series of negotiations
concluded November 7 and the union bargaining team is recommending members
vote in favour, says Jean-François Des Lauriers, Regional Executive
Vice-President PSAC North.
    Des Lauriers says the new contract contains significant improvements for
diamond workers, including annual indexed wage increases above the rate of
inflation, a very good incentive pay plan, improved seniority and layoff
protection, better Short Term Disability program and other benefits to
workers.
    "Ekati Diamond Workers can today see the great benefits of joining a
union and sticking with their union. This new contract is a substantial
improvement on wages and working conditions that will serve our members well,"
Des Lauriers said.
    Todd Parsons, President of the Union of Northern Workers (UNW), said the
deal comes a little over one year after Ekati diamond workers launched a tough
three-month strike to win a first contract for a one-year term.
    "This is a tribute to the solidarity of our members after the difficult
strike in 2006 and it shows our union is strong. We are pleased that BHP
Billiton has worked cooperatively with our negotiating committee to reach this
contract without a labour disruption or any acrimony."
    Des Lauriers said other gains reached in the four-year contract starting
September 1, 2007 include: an annual salary increase equal to the Canadian
Consumer Price Index for the NWT plus 1.25% each year; use of Alternate
Dispute Resolution as a quicker and simpler alternative to the formal
grievance and arbitration process; better layoff protection where seniority is
the factor with the greatest weight, with a 12-month worker recall period and
potential for worker retraining; and an 11.5% increase in Short Term
Disability coverage.
    Parsons said another benefit for workers is creation of a Northern Social
Justice Fund to support Northern community issues.
    "BHP Billiton will contribute $10,000 each year that will go to a fund
jointly administered by the union and management for worthy social justice
projects in the north," Parsons said. "This is a tangible benefit for all our
communities."
    The Union Bargaining Team reached a tentative settlement with BHP
Billiton Diamonds Inc. on November 7, 2007 on behalf of its workers, Ekati
Diamond Workers Local X3050 and is recommending acceptance by the membership.
    Ekati is Canada's first diamond mine. It produces 6 per cent of the
world's diamond supply by value or 4 per cent by weight and yields 3 to 5
million carats annually. It is located 300 km northeast of Yellowknife and 200
km south of the Arctic Circle.





For further information:

For further information: Jean-François Des Lauriers, Regional Executive
Vice-President - North, Public Service Alliance of Canada, (867) 669-0991 or
cell (867) 765-8937; or Todd Parsons, President, Union of Northern Workers,
(867) 873-5668 or cell (867) 445-8899; or Bill Tieleman, West Star
Communications, (604) 844-7827 or cell (778) 896-0964; Websites: www.unw.ca &
www.psacnorth.com

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PUBLIC SERVICE ALLIANCE OF CANADA/UNION OF NORTHERN WORKERS

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